Those who have read my blog probably know me, and therefore are probably well aware of my endless quest for the perfect personal system and routines. I’ve tried lots of things in this quest, and have had many stops and starts along the way but there are a few things I feel confident now should absolutely be part of the morning routine, at least for me. So here is what has been working for me (an obvious question here is how do I know they work? The unsatisfying answer is that I just feel better):
- No email (or twitter or facebook) checking until these other things have been completed. This is my time and I need to protect it.
- Exercise. No better way to take care of my body than to exercise first thing. This has taken me years to push exercise to the morning on a consistent basis (I have mostly exercised in the evening), but I’m getting close now.
- Writing. I take time to write either in a journal or on this blog at least for a few minutes in the morning. Admittedly a lot of times it is forced, and fluffy, but sometimes it is strong and meaningful.
- Prioritize for the day. My personal productivity in work skyrocketed when I put this before ever opening my email. In fact an even more difficult but productive move is to check off a few items on the list before you even open email. This is really hard. I can feel the urge to check my email growing each minute I don’t check it in the morning…It’s a powerful addiction.
And finally: Gratitude. My routine actually is sort of based on the Tony Robbins “Hour of Power,” which has gratitude, breathing, and exercise at its core. So in the morning when I walk my dog, before exercising, I’ll take 5-15 minutes to just run through all the things I have to be grateful for, from relationships, to work opportunities, to experiences, to family members, etc. This like all the others was something I have tried off and on in the past, but I never stopped it due to lack of impact. It was more due to laziness (which sneakily uses the excuse “I just don’t have the time.”). It is an amazing exercise. Sometimes you can feel it in that moment, sometimes it is just a general feeling of well-being that spreads throughout the day, but you will feel it.
It’s so easy to start the day thinking about what you are afraid of, what you wish you didn’t have to do that day, what you wish you could avoid. Maybe it’s just me, but those thoughts tend to push themselves to the front of my thoughts, especially in the quiet of the morning. Opening up and reminding myself all that I have to be grateful for today gives me tremendous power in facing those thoughts and things. It doesn’t make the scary things go away, but you’ll most definitely find they are not as scary as they once seemed. Gratitude is an amazing way to start the day.